Sunday, April 21, 2019

High West Double Rye! Official Whiskey of 2018 Sundance Film Festival Rye Finished Blended Rye Whiskey

- $40
- 101.4 Proof
- Barrel #5212
- Finish Time: 1 yr., 9 mos. - Rye
- Utah

Every so often I come into a bottle that I know I'm just never going to see again. Usually they're some private select single barrel where it's limited to whatever one barrel might have yielded. And even then, I usually know there's going to be another store pick, albeit a different barrel, somewhere in my future.

This bottle is a bit different, though. This was held back for me by a good friend who gave it to me on my last ski trip to Park City, which happened to be a week after the Sundance Film Festival. As far as I know, this was a gift shop only release, hand-selected by the powers that be at High West, and it was, as indicated by its name, released to commemorate the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Even a week later, it was gone.

This particular bottling was aged and blended in its normal course, then that blended whiskey was put into another rye whiskey barrel for finishing, which would theoretically impart more of the rye characters, such as cinnamon spice, mint, perhaps even pine and caramel.

On the nose I definitely got the pine. However, I also got a very distinct anise flavor. The cinnamon was there as well, but it came across more as buttered cinnamon toast. It was sort of spicy and sweet, all with this underlying maltiness that for fleeting moments was almost cocoa powder. Altogether it sounds like a really weird combination of aromas, but yet it really worked!

On my first sip, the first thing I noticed was the nice, oily texture. That texture delivered a great, buttery quality, which could be why the first tasting note I got was butterscotch. Immediately after that upfront, sweet butterscotch flavor, though, I got cherry (like fresh-picked cherries, not that fake cherry flavor) and pine. Again, as I write this it seems like a weird combination in my head, but it really did work.

This rye was complex and bold. Each of these flavors wasn't just sitting in the background, mixing with the others, but was bold and stood on its own. The cherry note, in particular, really stood out, even through the finish. I also got brown sugar and a light mint flavor that lingered for quite some time on the back end.  Throughout each sip was that spicy cinnamon note that, consistent with the nose, was balanced out by the malt character.

This rye had much more going on than any rye I've had in recent memory. Though the flavor profile is different, the closest comparison I have for sheer complexity and boldness is Thomas H. Handy. It packed a punch with flavor, and although on paper they don't look like they'd go together, in the bottle it all worked really well. From fruity to spicy to sweet to malty, this was an incredibly complex yet incredibly well-balanced and delicious rye . . . and I'm never going to get it again!

Grade: A

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